I have mentioned on several occasions that one of my great hobby joys is going to one of my local shops, Nick’s Sports Cards, on a Saturday afternoon. Although the trip usually has a dual purpose of picking up goodies at the deli next door, to me the treat is to sit and watch the customers walk in and seeing Nick and Debbie engage with them.
Whether the customers are buying boxes from the discount table, poring through 1950’s-60’s stars and commons to finish their sets, buying the newest hobby boxes and packs or just as importantly, giving little goodies to kids on their first visit, it’s fun to watch. Nick and Debbie always tinker with their store to continue to drive traffic in and keep the steady flow of customers. When I remarked on the number of people coming in, Nick said this was actually quiet compared to the previous week.
So needless to say, when Nick talks about the hobby, I listen for he truly has a pulse on the day to day affairs of this business. And as we were discussing the recently released 2015 Cooperstown product he mentioned how it appeared to him that Panini was adjusting some of their releases to be in tune with today’s case breakers. While not every product is going to be a big hit with breakers, when you have one that crosses over and collectors like, the potential is there. A good example of this was the 2015 Diamond Kings, for which both Nick and nearby Triple Cards have reported huge sales and tons of repeat business. Cooperstown hasn’t been quite as successful.
2015 Cooperstown marks the fourth straight year Panini has used its Hall of Fame license to produce a product centered on past greats. With around 300 Hall of Famers of one sort or another and writers and broadcasters in a special wing, there is a finite group of people one could use. I suppose we could make an argument here for a baseball “lifers” wing to the Hall of Fame to include people such as Buck O’Neill and Don Zimmer who never did enough in one traditional field to be a Hall of Famer but could be inducted as a contributor. I suppose we could even get life-long coaches such as Frank Crosetti or Charlie Lau in that way. Perhaps one contributor a year would be something that can be done and even placed into a set such as this. But there is still a cap as to how many subjects one can have in these sets.
So, that begets the question as to how to make this interesting to today’s collectors. For the 2015 product, Panini has now positioned Cooperstown as a 12-card pack/box. Each box contains something close to four base cards and parallels, six inserts and two autographs (usually either an on-card or cut signature). That also means the 100 base card set will be a real bear to complete and I would not be surprised way down the line if these base cards become just as popular as some of these inserts.
Nick said he had not sold any boxes yet at $157.95 while leading on-line retailers are between $125-140 before shipping.
There are some on card autographs here but some of the dual signed cards are on stickers.
Here’s what we pulled:
Base Cards: Monte Irvin, Ted Williams
Red Parallel (#d to 35): Hack Wilson
Blue Parallel (#d to 25); Luke Appling
Crown Royale Blue Parallel (#d to 25): Jim Bottomley
Etched in Cooperstown Holo Silver Parallel (#d to 25): Carl Yastrzemski
Induction: Bruce Sutter
Induction Blue Parallel (#d to 25): Tony Perez
Autographs (Both on card): Rollie Fingers, Red Schoendienst
The box price may seem steep and it does seem as if pushing Cooperstown more high-end might be a move aimed at the legion of case and box breakers but at least as a buyer you know you’re going to pull two Hall of Fame autographs. There are a lot of numbered inserts and parallels here which works for box breakers, I suppose and having Babe Ruth’s image as part of this year’s issue doesn’t hurt, although we didn’t pull any Bambinos.
As a baseball historian, I do appreciate products which appeal to old school collectors and also give young people the chance to see the game for what it was before and maybe even delve into the careers and lives of the players they might now know as much about.
Since the product’s release happened so close to this year’s induction ceremony, I’d be curious to know what sales were like in Coooperstown and whether players signed some of these over the weekend.
You can see Cooperstown on eBay here.